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Walking past their quarter, driving by their village, through their streets, houses squat, hugging earth, faceless, garbage burning in the yards, we become aware of their muttering; impudent glass infidels, echoes of foreign liturgy, stench of alleyways after midnight, distasteful mix of alcohol and urine.


Holding noses we avoid each other, hurry back to familiar scents and sounds, books fingered with centuries of devotion, we pray to god created in our tribal image, we are your true sons, favor us.


Hard to understand what’s happening; the doctor treating our child is one of them, cab driver, shop owner, teacher, lawyer standing for election, one of them.  Where will it end?  They’re moving into the neighborhood, going to our schools, inhabiting our malls.  In several areas the spirals of their intonations rise above our own.


On playing fields their teams best ours.  Today the final insult, my daughter hand-in-hand with one of their players, eyes loving first at his and then at mine.  My heart stops.  They almost look such a fine couple.


Across the avenues of time, guns roar.  Smoke rises from rubble, an ambulance sirens away its cargo, bleeding on squealing wheels.  One of them?  One of ours?  Tomorrow waits beside me, prayer book in hand.  My eyes blur, I cannot read the words.

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© Johnmichael Simon



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